The study is expected to take several months, with management scheduled to report its study recommendations at the board’s May 2012 meeting. If management recommends adjusting Santee Cooper’s electric rates, the board could then authorize a public comment period of several months and ultimately vote on new proposed rates in the third quarter of 2012.
Santee Cooper last adjusted its electric rates in 2009, with an overall 3.4-percent rate increase. It was the utility’s first increase in 13 years.
“Controlling costs is a top priority as Santee Cooper continues to deliver reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electricity to our customers,” said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper President and CEO. “We have made deep cuts in our operating budget the past two years to put off rate adjustments, and we have contracted to sell power to other utilities to help offset future costs. We have also aggressively grown our Reduce The Use program to help customers learn to save money by using less electricity.” Specific cost controls include:
- $1.8 billion in capital expenses reduced or deferred from 2010 through 2012
- $24 million in non-fuel operating and maintenance costs from 2011 through 2012
Key factors driving the rate review are construction expenses associated with Santee Cooper’s share of two planned nuclear units at V.C. Summer Generating Station, along with increasing environmental compliance costs and lowered projections for sales and demand.
“We are already feeling some of the pain related to environmental costs, as new and proposed regulations on fossil-fueled generation threaten the affordability of electricity across this country and could drive industry overseas,” Carter said.
Nuclear generation is emissions-free. Santee Cooper owns 45 percent of the planned V.C. Summer units 2 and 3 and is negotiating with other utilities to ultimately reduce its share to 20 percent. The units are scheduled to come online in 2016 and 2019.
“Nuclear power is the most practical choice for new base load construction,” Carter said. “Our rate study anticipates that we successfully reduce our ownership share, which will minimize cost impacts for our customers.”
To learn more about Santee Cooper’s current rates, visit www.santeecooper.com. To learn how to save money by being more energy efficient, visit www.ReduceTheUse.com.
Santee Cooper is South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility, and the state’s largest power producer. The ultimate source of electricity for 2 million South Carolinians, Santee Cooper is dedicated to being the state’s leading resource for improving the quality of life for the people of South Carolina.